There is no way to prevent gout, but people with gout can improve their symptoms and reduce the frequency of acute attacks by following certain steps in terms of dietary and lifestyle changes.
Gout is caused due to increase in levels of uric acid in your blood. When the increase in blood uric acid level becomes excessive (hyperuricemia), urate crystals form around the joints. This causes inflammation and severe pain in the joint. The first acute attack of gout usually occurs after several years of build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and surrounding tissue. Therefore, most people do not realise that they have an elevated blood uric acid level until the first gout attack. There is no cure for gout and there is no definite way to prevent gout, but the frequency and severity of future attacks of gout can be prevented.
[Read: What is Gout?]
- Take your medication: After an acute attack of gout, you may be prescribed medicines for gout. It is essential to follow the doctor’s recommendations regarding medications to prevent future attacks. It is important to take medicines even when you are feeling well and don’t have pain. Many people may have to take medicines to reduce blood uric acid levels for the rest of their lives.
- Lose weight: If you are obese/overweight, try to lose weight. According to some studies, being overweight increases the risk of gout significantly.. Obesity increases the stress on joints and therefore, it may increase the pain and inflammation in gout. Consult your doctor to make a weight loss plan for you. If you lose weight too quickly or by fasting, it can cause temporary increase of uric acid levels possibly bringing on a gout attack. Weight loss should be gradual i.e. about one to two pounds a week.
- Quit alcohol: You may be advised to reduce or stop your alcohol intake. Studies have observed that alcohol reduces elimination of uric acid from your body. Beer consumption has especially been noted to start gout attacks. Alcohol should be avoided even when you're having an attack.
[Read: Changes in the Body during Alcohol Withdrawal]
- Diet changes: Making changes in the diet may improve symptoms of gout by reducing uric acid levels in the blood. Changes in diet can help to control the production of uric acid and this can probably prevent gout attacks or reduce their severity. Dietary changes that can be helpful include limiting foods rich in purines such as shellfish and organ meats such as liver, brains, kidneys and sweetbreads. Purine is a chemical, which is converted by the body into uric acid. Plant-based proteins such as beans and legumes can be eaten to increase protein intake.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Fluids, especially water can help to eliminate uric acid in urine. Experts advise that a person drink about eight to 16 or 8-ounce (237 millilitres) glasses of fluids in a day.
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